The proper selection of suppliers is crucial to keeping your business running effectively, and it is critical that you use careful consideration when choosing which supplier to go with. This is particularly true when evaluating and choosing suppliers of custom-manufactured products such as ferrous and non-ferrous castings. Choosing the right supplier can result in time and money saved, and a significantly smoother path to a finished product.
Here are some questions to ask and considerations to make when choosing a foundry:
Does the foundry have a safety and training program and how is it performing? In addition to its primary responsibility as an employer, a foundry’s commitment to safety can have a significant direct and indirect impact on quality. Measures taken to assure the facility is operated in a safe, clean, and healthy manner also enhance an employee’s ability to work efficiently and produce higher quality castings. Customer satisfaction begins with taking care of the team, so make sure your foundry is as committed to safety as you are with your team and your company.
The quality of your product needs to be consistent. Has the Quality Management System been audited and registered by a third-party certification body? Metalcasting requires the highest levels of attention and control throughout the process. This requires a Quality Management System capable of meeting your needs and an operation that has the talent, technology, and innovation to support your needs. Ask your vendor to share details on how they manage their quality control at every stage of the design and manufacturing process.
Has the foundry made appropriate investments in their equipment and facility? Do they have a program and the resources to maintain key equipment to assure delivery of product? The foundry industry uses a wide variety of heavy equipment that requires frequent maintenance. If one piece of equipment fails, it can disrupt the entire process with downtime and/or defective product. Be certain the foundry you choose has proper maintenance programs, support staff, and a supply of on-hand spare parts to keep the operation up and running.
How does the foundry approach the casting process? Foundries with in-house engineering and rapid prototyping teams can move your project from design to production in far less time than traditional methods. Additionally, a foundry that has both ferrous and non-ferrous capabilities under one roof can be a one-stop-shop for your casting needs.
Does the foundry work with a comprehensive range of industries – and even more important – do they have proven experience in your industry? A foundry that understands your products, terminology, and pain points can act as a true partner, anticipating your needs and providing solutions for any roadblocks that might come up.
Is the low-price foundry ‘good enough’? Many times, the low-price supplier is the least equipped to support needs beyond basic requirements. For most, looking beyond low price and taking a holistic value approach will reduce overall costs. Factors like production delays, parts that fail quality control checks, and inefficient casting design development can add to your total costs without you even realizing it. Buck Company recommends evaluating the total cost of ownership based on both unit cost and the many other variables that influence final vendor costs.
Is the facility well-lit, clean, and organized? Is the equipment maintained and in good condition? There is no better way to gauge a foundry’s financial strength, capabilities, and culture than to observe processes first-hand and talk with employees. During your tour, look for any potential warning signs about the foundry’s ability to deliver your specific project or its overall condition, culture, and long-term viability.
By taking time upfront to carefully evaluate foundries and their ability to perform, you can establish valuable and reliable long-term relationships to help meet your expectations and avoid costly mistakes by choosing the wrong partner.